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Cherokee boys, girls roll to wins in Christmas Bash

TANNER COOK • Dec 19, 2019 at 11:11 PM

ROGERSVILLE — In the inaugural Big H BBQ Christmas Bash, the Cherokee basketball team smoked Glenwood, Alabama, in the opening boys game of the night, 60-28.

The Chiefs (5-7) had had five losses by single digits and needed a win like this one.

Micah Jones led Cherokee with 17 points while Jonas Leeper tallied 15. Nine players scored for the Chiefs, but it was truly a team defensive effort on the night.

Rebounding was also a huge key for the Chiefs as Glenwood scored few second-chance points.

“Our kids did some great stuff out there, and our effort was a whole lot better tonight,” Cherokee first-year coach Trey Fields said. “We had a great start and we’ve lost some games like that where we get down by six or eight points and we lose by that many or less. We tried to change some things in our pregame and I think it helped. We shot the ball so well, too.

“One of our goals each game is to win the rebounding war. We’ve done that in every game except three and those were all close losses. It’s something I’ve come to expect, but I’ve tried to make it a goal every night.”

The Gators (8-4) did not make a shot from the floor in the first quarter as Cherokee put the game away early, leading 18-2. The Chiefs played the majority of the game with a double-digit lead and scored the first 11 points of the game.

The Cherokee 1-3-1 trapping zone defense frustrated Glenwood, forcing more than 20 turnovers.

Tony Maple scored the first field goal of the contest for Glenwood — the 2017 3A Alabama state champions — with 5:32 left in the second quarter.

The Gators had multiple stretches of four-plus minutes in each quarter without scoring. Maples led the Gators with just eight points.

Glenwood hit only eight field goals and did not make a 3-point basket.

“I thought it was a great team win for us,” Fields said. “I thought our energy was there and we were very physical, forcing a lot of turnovers and winning the rebounding battle.”

South Greene 58, Hancock County 50

The Rebels were hitting everything early and Hancock County could not buy a basket. South Greene built an eight-point halftime advantage, leading 36-28.

However, behind a barrage of third quarter 3-pointers, the Indians rallied and took a 38-37 lead with less than three minutes left in the period.

The combination of hot shooting by Hancock County and careless turnovers by South Greene helped fuel the comeback even more. The teams were tied at 44 at the end of three.

South Greene turned up the defense to another level in the final period, holding the Indians to just six points while netting 14 of their own.

Ty Bailey had a game-high 20 points to lead South Greene and Hunter Hatfield led Hancock County with 17 points.

Hatfield made five 3-pointers, but he did not score in the fourth quarter as he had to exit the game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

Girls

Cherokee 37, Rye Cove 18

The Lady Chiefs (4-9) playing in the opener of the Christmas Bash got the tournament started with a win over Rye Cove behind great defense and better offense in the second half.

Sam Tilson led Cherokee with 10 points while Destiny Jarnigan had six. The Lady Chiefs were up just 15-10 at halftime, but pulled away in the middle of the third quarter while holding the Lady Eagles (5-2) scoreless for the majority of the third quarter. Sarah Cupova led Rye Cove with eight points.

Cherokee 45, Hancock County 31

Hancock County went 5:42 not only missing every shot it took, but didn’t even hit the rim. Cherokee took advantage of the woeful Lady Indians’ shooting and had an early 9-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Hancock County was still down 11-2 in the second, but came back with a pair of 3-pointers, and Cherokee had a string of bad offensive possessions that helped get the Lady Indians back in the game. Hancock County had cut the deficit to six points at 20-14 at the half.

The Lady Indians cut the deficit all the way to one point at 21-20, but Cherokee was able to push the lead back out with a quick 5-0 burst. Cherokee still led 30-26 at the end of three periods, but Hancock County would not go away.

“I thought that put the game away,” Cherokee coach Jason Lawson said. “We had a lot of good looks, but everything seemed to come up short. We had a game earlier and our legs were pretty heavy.

“This does a lot for our confidence. I don’t know if we’ve ever won two games in one day. The second game was a lot better, and we got a big shot or some sort of stop when we needed it. Sometimes, it’s all freshmen and sophomores out there, and when they’re on the end of the floor that our bench is on, the offense is a lot better.”

Lydia Alvis led Cherokee with 13 points. Lanie Dalton had 11 points for Hancock County.

It looked like the Lady Indians had one more run in them and cut the lead, but a Destiny Jarnigan 3-pointer with 6:35 to extend the lead to eight points put the game out of reach. Hancock County never again got closer than six points.